Annoyed with A New Site

If you’ve ever looked at the My Works page on this blog, you’ll notice a section entitled Informative Post. I haven’t been pleased with this site since day 1, to tell the truth. In the past two weeks, I’ve become absolutely disgusted. Shall we explore the reasons not to write at Informative Post? To be fair, I’ll even add in reasons one might consider the site.  Let’s start with the positives.

  • The creator provides a list of hot topics that will more than likely get reviewed quickly. 
  • There are sometimes jobs from publishers listed
  • When submitting, you see the amount that will be paid for acceptable articles in any given category.
  • You can re-publish elsewhere as long as you provide a link back to Informative Post.
  • You earn on page views.

Now on to why I’ve gotten so annoyed with the site.

  • Extremely unprofessional.  When I first signed up, the site took at least 5 minutes to load on broadband.  After that, the site went down for almost a month for the second upgrade in less than a year.  At least the site was faster after the upgrade.
  • Review time is based upon your AP.  You receive AP points for comments, page views, and articles.  AP grows slowly.  For instance, after 100 comments, I only earned 12 points.  At the moment, you need 122 points to have an article reviewed.  Even writing on the hot list of topics doesn’t guarantee you’ll be reviewed.
  • Most articles on the site are poorly written.  How these people have an AP high enough to be published is beyond me.  Over half the articles on the site should have been rejected.  There are glaring grammatical errors, lack of any facts on the topic, and some are well, I’m not entirely sure how to classify them other than good luck trying to translate. (And yes, they are supposedly in English)
  • You can pay the owner to have your article published immediately and earn more on page views.  It will also stay at the top of the list in the category for a specified length of time.  You should NEVER EVER have to pay to print your work.
  • There is a section to actually buy the owner gifts from his Amazon Wish List.  This is on the main page.
  • There are no author profiles or lists of works.  Old articles are almost impossible to find.  They will not be found through the regular search feature.  You can not search by author either.  Needless to say, promotion is a bit hard.
  • The owner is young, which isn’t a bad thing, but his only focus is his own interests.  He’s always looking for articles related to computer programming, which is his specialty, or so he claims.  You should not give priority to an article simply because it fits your interests.  Then again, this could be why some people do so well on there.  Gifts and “special” articles would probably gain you a spot on the favorites list.
  • Articles are outdated by the time they get reviewed.  I have some in queue that have been waiting for almost 3 months.  I did a few holiday articles that got approved; however, one didn’t and is still sitting in wait.  Although, I could have made more on the upfront at Informative Post at the time, I could have earned more overall somewhere else by having it published immediately.
  • Members are now being greeted with a full page ad after logging in.  I understand the concept of ad-supported, but this is ridiculous.  There are Google links on the main page, on every article, and other ads are on the right of the screen.  I think there is plenty of ad revenue potential without shoving a full page down members throats.

Okay, so I’m not happy with this site at all.  If you’re going to create an e-commerce site, then it should be professional.  If you’re too busy to run the site, then don’t create it to start with.  The logon ad was the final straw for me.  I will comment every now and again until I reach the payout and then I’m gone.  Yeah, that’s another problem.  You have to earn at least $25 before you can request a payout.  This can take forever if you’re AP isn’t increasing.  So my advice is to stay far away from Informative Post unless you want to buy gifts, pay to be paid, and basically learn that hard work means nothing.

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Exercise for Writers

I’m not talking about doing aerobics or rushing to the gym after a hard day of writing. I’m talking about writing exercises. It’s important to exercise your writing skills on a regular basis.

No matter what your writing schedule may be, take at least 10 to 15 minutes 5 days a week to practice your skills. You can explore new topics, write about passions, or simply journal about your day or dreams. The topic doesn’t matter, just the writing itself.

I’m kind of ashamed to say I’m just beginning regular writing exercises myself, but I’ve already since improvement. As an added bonus, I found a way to actually make money from my writing exercises. Well, at least from some of them. Trust me, you don’t want to know some of the random stuff that spews onto my page from time to time. Anyway, I’ll write more getting paid for writing exercises soon. I don’t want you focusing on getting paid at the moment, as important as that may be.

So here’s the deal, spend roughly an hour a week and you could see vast improvement in your writing. Not to mention, you’ll be writing frequently on topics that interest you, without sparing a thought about whether it’s a money maker or not.

Benefits of Writing Exercises:
Enjoy writing more
Better first drafts – less editing later
Write more quality pieces faster (I’m especially enjoying this one)
Increase your confidence
Creates a desire to write more

Common Types of Writing Exercises:
Journal – Write about your day, dreams, hopes, fears, etc.
Writing Prompts
Blogging – Write a quick post about whatever interests you
Poetry – Yes, even writing a poem can help your writing skills, especially creative writing
Debate/Rant – Nothing’s easier or quicker to express than your own opinion, especially strong ones

Now, find the time and exercise your writing!

Weekly Writing Prompts

Eventually, these writing prompts will be on a schedule; however, for now just expect them roughly once a week.  I’d love to hear from you if you use these prompts, especially if you publish the results somewhere.  Feel free to comment with links.

Fiction Prompt:  A neighbor’s cat appears on your doorstep one morning.  You reach down to pet the cat, but your hand touches thin air.  You look behind you to find a woman standing behind you wearing the cat’s collar.  You look around, but the cat is no where to be found. 

Who is the woman?  Is the cat actually a shape-shifter?  So many story lines, so little time 🙂

Non-fiction Prompt:  Is the rise in STDs due to the hype over female birth control, such as pills, shots, or patches?  Should more emphasis be put back on condoms?

Forced Writing Isn’t Writing At All

I’m sure many writers have experienced the “forced write”.  Basically, it’s the point where you’re writing to topics you simply have no interest in.  You force yourself to write them simply for the pay.  Writing is supposed to be something you enjoy.  After all, pursuing a career you dislike is pointless, right? 

I know that sometimes the pay is absolutely worth forcing yourself to write, but it shouldn’t become a habit.  At least 75% of your writing should be on topics you enjoy or at least want to learn more about.  I’ve written about topics that I didn’t necessarily know anything about, but I thoroughly enjoyed the research.  However, if I have the potential to double or triple my usual earnings simply by branching out, why not? 

It’s fine to branch out and try writing on topics you’re not interested in.  Who knows, you might find a hidden interest.  Then again, you may just make a few extra bucks and hope you never hear about the topic ever again.  There are some benefits to forced writing, but sometimes the negative consequences aren’t worth it.  Check out the list of pros and cons below and see what you think. 

PROS
You may earn more.
You may find new interests, which leads to more topics.
You may get your work noticed by a wider audience.

CONS
You lose interest in writing.
The work comes off as forced.
You spend more time than usual on research and end up actually losing money.
Writing becomes just a job instead of something to be proud of.

Now if you actually have no interest in writing and are just writing to earn extra money, then forced writing is probably all you do.  For those that love to write, the last thing you want to do is lose interest.  As long as you spend most of your time doing what you enjoy, you’ll be fine.  Sometimes in order to pay the bills, you have to write about topics that let’s face it, you have to have engery drinks just to stay awake.  Just don’t make this all you do or you’ll find yourself hating the job you’ve dreamed about.

Worse Than Writer’s Block – Loss of Passion

Unless you’re a writer, you would believe that writer’s block is the absolute worst thing that can befall a writer.  Contrary to popular belief, writer’s block is nothing compared to loss of passion or what basically boils down to boredom.  People forget that the world of writing isn’t always glamorous with millions of readers, book signings, seeing your name on best seller lists, and so on.  Only a hand full of writers ever see this kind of fame; however, that doesn’t mean other writers don’t make as many contributions or make as much money.

Writers often reach a point where they lose interest in writing.  They still want to write, but they can’t force the pen to move or their fingers to type.  (I’m sure a few years from now, no one will have a clue what a pen or pencil is.)  It’s not exactly boredom, but it’s close.  Imagine sitting at a desk day after day pouring out word after word on every topic imaginable.  After a while, the words become a meaningless blur.  So what is a writer to do when they lose their passion?

I’ve had to force myself many times to write.  My work suffers for it.  The key is to find at least one topic you’re extremely interested in and write as much as possible.  This topic should require no thought or research on your part.  For me, writing about computers, programming, pets, or simply expressing my many opinions helps to erase the “boredom” and suddenly I am able to write to the most mundane of topics with renewed passion. 

Should this not work, there is one more solution.  Take a vacation.  So many writers work from home, but forget to take a break.  Other employees take vacations, why shouldn’t writers?  You are your own business, so set your own hours.  If you need a break, finish all assignments and inform clients that you will be unavailable for a set amount of time.  Whether you take a few days or a few weeks, simply get away from writing.  Take some time to explore other hobbies, or just spend time with friends and family.

Loss of passion is no reason to give up.  Follow the techniques above to renew your writing passion.  If you find yourself becoming bored, change your writing or take a break.

Weekly Writing Prompts

I really want to make this blog something useful to all writers.  One thing I often look for is writing prompts.  So each week, I will post at least two writing prompts, one fiction, one non-fiction.  Writing prompts are useful when you have writer’s block, or simply need to exercise your writing skills.  Write as much as you can on the prompt or prompts for at least 10 minutes without looking back to edit.  Many writers can spawn multiple ideas from a single prompt.

Fiction:  Walking along a narrow forest path, you stumble across an abandoned wagon.  Inside you find the makings of what was once a traveling magic show.  The signature magic wand is lying across a bundle of clothes.  Thinking nothing of it, you begin digging through one of the trunks.  All you find is more clothes and props.  But what happened to the magician?  Walking around to the front of the wagon, you see something shimmer.  You find a puddle, but instead of your own reflection, you see the magician screaming for help. 

What happens next?  Do you try to save the magician?  Are the props more than mere props?  You decide.

Non-Fiction:  New Year’s superstitions vary across the world.  Do they really have any bearing on the year ahead? 

You can research various superstitions or talk about those in your own family.

Writer’s New Years Resolutions

Weight loss is always a popular New Year’s resolution. It’s great to start a new year with goals to improve yourself and your life in some way. For many, simply finding a job will be their biggest resolution.

To keep in the spirit of making New Year’s resolutions, I want to create a list of my own and hopefully others will add their resolutions as well in the comments section. I’ll add this entire post as a separate page so we can all keep tabs on our writing resolutions for the year. Feel free to add other resolutions as well.

My Writing Resolutions for 2009:
-Become a master at SEO
-Successfully use 2 main sites for promotion instead of spending a few minutes everywhere
-Develop a consistent writing plan with a backup plan for slow times
-Create an ebook for popular article series
-Earn at least 40K
-Participate in November’s Novel in a Month Challenge
-Write at least 2 posts per week for A Writer’s Rare Dream and 3rd Side

Hmmm…I only have a few resolutions 🙂 Looks like I’ll have quite a busy year. Let’s just say if I pull off those goals, I’ll have one heck of a fun, though busy, year.